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The S&D Group has demanded, in a letter addressed to the president of the European Council, Donald Tusk to take all the necessary steps to enable Bulgaria and Romania to join the Schengen area. In the letter, S&D Group President Gianni Pittella said: “Our Group has long been calling for the Schengen area to be extended to include Romania and Bulgaria. Both countries meet the relevant criteria set out by the European Commission, as was clearly recognised by president Juncker in his State of the Union address and openly stated in yesterday’s recommendation to the EU Council. “Border free travel is one of the great success stories of the European Union and it is only right that all citizens have the chance to benefit from it. We urge European Council president Donald Tusk to take the necessary steps to enable both countries to finally become full members of the Schengen area without further delay. It is high time Romanians and Bulgarians stopped being treated as second class European citizens.”
The Tallinn Statement on a Social EuropeTo achieve high quality of life and ensure upward social convergence, we must:
• Assure decent working conditions in all forms of employment, guaranteeing every worker access to a core set of labour and social rights, which follow the principle of equal pay for equal work.
• Close the gender pay gap by 2% per year assuring equal treatment and non-discrimination throughout our Union. In addition, particular target measures are needed like quotas for women on company boards at European level. Companies to introduce multi-aged working teams.
• Establish a European Child Guarantee, which ensures that every child has access to free healthcare, free education, free childcare, decent housing and proper nutrition.
• Ensure the respect and the promotion of collective bargaining so that it reaches as many workers as possible across our Union.
• Assure the reconciliation of personal and work life.
• Fight income inequality, unemployment with a special focus on young people who are neither in employment nor education.
• Substantially scale up the funding of the EU Youth Guarantee to create better and better jobs.
• New key-factor like health must be better included in policy making, including occupational health.
• Prepare for a Social Progress Protocol to be incorporate in the Treaties, when possible, to change the overall balance between economic freedom and fundamentals social rights.
• Create a specific Social Fund for capacity building, in particular for Social Partners in Member States, where needed.
• Deliver a European Pillar of Social Rights to cope with the new trends in the labour market, guaranteeing decent working conditions and access to social protection.
To cope with demographic challenges and the impact of a growing digital economy, we must:
• Develop new ways to guarantee workers’ rights and representation, decent working conditions, fair competition and social protection in the “fourth industrial revolution”.
• Organise the portability of workers’ rights as they move around in the European digital labour market.
• Extend collective agreements to individuals engaged in new digital forms of work.
• Mitigate the risk of brain drain by investing in measures supporting circular migration, and ensuring mobility is not the result of inadequate employment opportunities or social protections.
• Invest in active ageing and enable people reaching pensionable age to have the option to continue working while being able to draw partially on their pension if they work less than full-time.
• Investing in equitable and quality education for all and everywhere in Europe must be an absolute top priority.
To ensure sustainable financing of social policies, we must:
• Provide public support for developing sectors with important employment potential.
• Combat tax evasion to ensure adequate level of public funds.
• Broaden the financial base of welfare systems by shifting towards new sources of tax revenue.
• Establish quality benchmarks for national unemployment insurance schemes.
• Enable the public employment service to have adequate capacity for direct contact with business.
• The EU must do more to unlock the potential of the Social Economy.
• Invest in green technology and in the environment.
• We need a sustainable EU Budget where all Member States should contribute a fair share.
• Link the financial economy to the real economy through the introduction of a Financial Transaction Tax.
• Close tax loopholes in the 28 Member States and introduce a EU-wide Minimum Effective Corporate Tax Rate.
• To test the possibility to the introduction of a basic income scheme in the EU.
• Fight undeclared work!
Information, participation and civic dialogue about social rights is very important!
*** This is the statement approved and adopted at the TOGETHER event in Tallinn, Estonia on May 12, 2017. But the debate goes on! Share your ideas on how to build a Social Europe that benefits all.
Investing in Europe, Investing in people – A progressive future EU financing, based on solidarity, economic and sustainable development – this is what we want.
The EU budget, a concern for everyone! We should:
• Reaffirm the will of the S&D and its sister organisations to achieve an ambitious and higher EU budget in the next Multiannual Financial Framework
• Make the S&D family work together on the future of the EU and its funding
• Bringing the EU budget closer to citizens, which means strengthening its relevance and its visibility
An EU budget based on genuine own resources! We should:
• Prioritize EU own resources as the primary revenue stream instead of the national contribution by Member States• Give incentives instead of sanctions and exclude contributions to the EU Budget from the deficit calculations under the Stability and Growth pact. Members States need to be encouraged and not deterred to invest in the European project
• Put an end to all rebates and abandon the national “juste retour” logic
Toward new EU own resources! We should:
• Insist that the implementation of new EU own resources remain the only option to adequately finance the MFF• Create a new own resources system with the introduction of new genuine own resources and an increase of the own resources share to at least 50% of the EU budget to provide fairer and more stable EU finances
• Establish new own resources to feed the EU budget though a Financial Transaction Tax, an EU tax on multinational corporations based on a Common corporate Tax Base, a carbon EU tax, etc.
A future Multiannual Financial Framework post 2020 with an adequate level of financing! We should:
• Break the 1% of the EU’s Gross National Income (GNI) ceiling for expenditure of the EU budget and significantly increase it even over 1.23% of the EU’s Gross National Income (GNI).
• Ensure that additional political priorities shall be linked with additional financial means and not be financed to the detriment of existing policies
• Promote the S&D sixth scenario for the future of the EU to be included into the next Multiannual Financial Framework
A new cohesion policy: investing in Europe, investing in people! We should:
• Strengthen cohesion policy that put human capital first
• Ensure an EU support for all regions with a stronger budget to build EU-wide answers to the global challenges
• Build a cohesion policy on simplification, based on quality and progress and that takes into account the social, environmental and economic dimensions
A new innovative toolbox for the next Multiannual Financial Framework post 2020! We should:
• Reform the headings of the EU budget to better reflect the political priorities of the EU’s future, such as growth & sustainability, solidarity and security & defense
• Render the EU budget more readable and understandable for managing authorities, project promoters and EU citizens
• Increase the flexibility and adaptability of the MFF to cope with new challenges and priorities that arise;
• Ensure that the European Parliament and the citizens are fully involved in the decision-making process of the next MFF
• Simplify the financial rules for the benefit of European citizens
“Financial Solutions for a New Budget and a New Europe” is one of the priorities part of the “Building the Progressive Future Together” statement, that will be debated during our event in Brussels on October 18-19. We’re counting on your input, so each of you can play a part in shaping our common future. It’s easy – just sign in, click on the link and add your thoughts. We will select the best comment for each workshop and fly the person who sent it to Brussels, as our Together Ambassador, to debate live with our MEPs, European Commissioners, academics and intellectuals. Deadline: October 9.
The European Union and Africa have an important and unique partnership, which is at a crossroads. The EU remains the main partner of Africa, but it is no longer the only one. So does Africa still need Europe? We continue to believe the deep, comprehensive and holistic relationship is a vital long-term foundation for political dialogue and progress in both continents.
Investing in young people. The demographic boom in Africa will be an opportunity for the continent rather than a challenge, if we support investment in education. The challenges of the future will only be met if we equip the next generations with the necessary tools, on which an “EU-Africa Erasmus program” can be of great impact, encouraging exchanges between European and African young students, researchers, teachers and entrepreneurs.
Sustainable investments. The S&D Group strongly supports the EU External Investment Plan for Africa (and European neighbourhood) with the aim of improving economic and social development and achieving the SDGs on the African continent. But rather than underpin multinationals which are already champions of tax evasion, or the ones which prey on mineral and natural resources, the EIP must provide support to SMEs, microfinance and job creation programs, especially for young people and women.
Coherent Partnerships for development to address the root causes of irregular migration. Irregular migration is a global phenomenon requiring a coordinated international response and the EU must take a human-rights-based lead in shaping it. We support a strong partnership between Europe and Africa and the efforts in the United Nations to tackle the root causes of migration in terms of improving the economic and social situation, strengthening democracy and the rule of law, and providing education and employment opportunities in countries of transit and origin. We remain strongly committed to the 2030 Agenda and the SDGs, also by improving development cooperation, conflict resolution, and stimulate inclusive and sustainable economic growth to ensure that people have a real chance of a better life in their homeland. But we also need to ensure we implement Policy Coherence for Development across our agricultural, trade and investment policies, from the Common Agricultural Policy to binding due diligence requirements for EU companies. The security-development nexus remains important for addressing conflict, but poverty-alleviation must remain the primary goal of development assistance. We will never accept aid conditionality linked to migration policy.
Strengthen democracy and human rights. Human rights remain central to our partnership with Africa. We urge the EEAS and Commission to use all available tools to maintain serious human rights dialogues. We will seek innovative mechanisms to give support and visibility to those risking their lives in Africa for the defence of human rights, democracy, social justice, equality and non-discrimination. We reiterate our belief that independent NGOs, media and cultural space are a pre-requisite of a functioning democracy and rule of law.
Gender equality. Without the emancipation of women there is no viability for sustainable development, nor full democracy, nor good governance. Gender equality must be mainstreamed in all EU policies, initiatives and investments towards Africa.
“Does Africa need Europe?” is one of the priorities part of the “Building the Progressive Future Together” statement, that will be debated during our event in Brussels on October 18-19. We’re counting on your input, so each of you can play a part in shaping our common future. It’s easy – just sign in, click on the link and add your thoughts. We will select the best comment for each workshop and fly the person who sent it to Brussels, as our Together Ambassador, to debate live with our MEPs, European Commissioners, academics and intellectuals. Deadline: October 9.
1. The EU as a united and influential voice. At a time when the European project is being questioned and new challenges abound, from the violations of the European security order to terrorism and violence plaguing North Africa and the Middle East, as well as Europe itself, the EU has to become an ever more united and influential actor on the world stage to keep its citizens safe, preserve its interests and uphold its values;
2. Striving for strategic autonomy. This is necessary for the EU to promote its values, principles and interests. The most appropriate framework to achieving these is the rules-based global order and effective multilateralism. Foreign and security policies of the EU require deepening the trans-atlantic bond and sustainable dialogue with other key international actors;
3. Strengthening defence capacities. The EU is most effective in achieving its foreign and security policy goals when it combines soft and hard power. European defence should reflect the security concerns of all the EU Member States. It should be advanced by enhanced efficiency in Member States´ spending, through common capabilities development and enhanced civil-military synergies in the conduct of CSDP missions;
4 . Fostering effective approach to conflict resolution. The EU must engage in a practical and principled way in peacebuilding, concentrating its efforts on conflict resolution in surrounding unstable regions to the east and south. It must make a full use of tools and instruments available to it, including engagement with all players in a conflict, and, when appropriate, containment and deterrence. Supporting reform agendas pursued by partner countries within the European Neighbourhood Policy is essential for their stabilisation;
5. Promoting cooperative regional orders. As a model of such a regional order itself, the EU is best placed to promote the non-zero sum game approach to conflict resolution, including in the most divided regions. Particularly in the Middle East and North Africa, the capacity of the EU to engage with all players empowers it to promote new security architecture whereby the legitimate interests of all partners should be taken into account; the EU should further develop its capacity to contribute to the stabilisation and rebuilding of the countries in post-conflict situations.
6. Aligning EU trade policies with Sustainable Development Goals and the Paris Agreement. The EU should assume a leadership role to promote fair, regulated global trade in the interest of all people e.g. a legislative proposal on mandatory due diligence on global value chains in order to provide transparency and traceability, counter unfair trading practices and uphold labour and environmental rights;
7. Enforcing forceful measures to protect European industry against unfair trade practices. With this goal in mind, pressure must be put on the Council to modernise the Union’s trade defence system;
8. Dialogue-oriented processes with the involvement of the civil society at all levels of government. This is key to ensuring the participation of trade unions and the ILO in order to ensure labour and social standards are incorporated in the sustainability chapter;
9. Responding to the consumers’ concerns. It is necessary to reinforce corporate social responsibility initiatives and due diligence across supply chains, thus enhancing consumers’ confidence in the products they buy;
10. Closer collaboration with the ILO and OECD. The EU should pursue deep dialogue with these organisations with the aim of developing a global approach to improving social and labour standards in developing countries, including mechanisms to ensure full respect for fundamental rights and the protection of minorities.
“A stronger European Union in a changing world” is one of the priorities part of the “Building the Progressive Future Together” statement, that will be debated during our event in Brussels on October 18-19. We’re counting on your input, so each of you can play a part in shaping our common future. It’s easy – just sign in, click on the link and add your thoughts. We will select the best comment for each workshop and fly the person who sent it to Brussels, as our Together Ambassador, to debate live with our MEPs, European Commissioners, academics and intellectuals. Deadline: October 9.
Today, our economic system disregards the planet and human health, and creates social inequalities. Therefore, our economy must radically change. Socialists and Democrats place this radical change of our economic system at the heart of their political engagement.
A cleaner environment, healthier food or quality jobs cannot become a privilege for those who can afford it. There can be no sustainable economy if it benefits some, while excluding others. Sustainability must become a central driver of new equality and cohesion across our societies and within them.
The future of the European Union itself will depend on its ability to embrace this radical change. The United Nations Sustainable Development Goals for 2030 (UNSDG) and the commitments made under the United Nations’ Paris Agreement on climate change provide a policy framework to engage in this process. This is why we call for a thorough and visionary European sustainable development strategy for the years to come, based on innovation, transformative investments, strong social rights and convergence and the eradication of social and ecological dumping.
Therefore we will notably:
Promote and defend policies which enable the European Union to successfully decouple economic development from greenhouse gas emissions and to undergo a profound transition towards a more sustainable, zero-carbon economy based on renewable sources of energy and energy efficiency. For the EU to remain within its carbon budget, plans for any additional coal-fired generating capacity must be shelved. All currently operating coal plants as well as nuclear power plants must go off grid by a fixed end date.
Plead for doubling the total available financial resources for investment in economic change over the coming years. Investment in human capital in particular should find more space in the EU investment strategy. A modern Cohesion Policy investment financed by the European Structural and Investment Funds (ESIF) has to aim at attainment of objectives of a ‘smart, sustainable and inclusive’ growth and have a key role in boosting the economy through investment at a local, regional and national level. A fully fledged European sustainable investment strategy building on the European Fund for Strategic Investment (EFSI), a strong European budget and stronger national public investments via a more flexible “investment clause” for sustainable investments in the Growth and Stability Pact, must collectively achieve this objective.
Continue our fight to protect our citizens from pollution and harmful chemicals while protecting the rich biodiversity of our countries. When dealing with our citizens’ health we will work hard to ensure that stricter rules are enforced to reduce exposure to air pollutants, especially for the most vulnerable groups of our society.
Stimulate the move towards a circular economy which re-uses materials and has positive effects on the path to a zero-carbon economy, both lowering the energy consumption of industry and creating new sustainable, qualified jobs in the industries reusing, recycling or up-valuing discarded products and resources.
Introduce clean urban transport toward sustainable mobility for all: reducing transport needs by the promotion of proximity and mixed-uses schemes, prioritising non-motorised ‘walkable’, ‘cyclable’ cities, supporting affordable and efficient public transport accessible for all-notably for deprived neighborhood., We need Zero-Emission Vehicle (ZEV) quotas for car manufacturers with the aim of phasing out new CO2-emitting cars by 2035.
Support a stronger protection of labor and social rights in The European Pillar for Social Rights. Concrete measures to eradicate social dumping must be taken before the end of this term. Social security must be guaranteed for all Europeans, where ever they choose to work. The European Treaties should be upgraded with a Social Protocol to ensure that fundamental rights take precedence over economic freedoms.
Resist rising income and wealth inequalities which have no place in a sustainable Europe. A European sustainable development strategy must therefore encompass broad-ranging strategy to reduce inequalities in income and wealth within and among countries, and develop a European-wide initiative for the eradication of poverty by 2030.
Ensure the European Union invests in vocational training to organise a just transition offering new opportunities for workers in high carbon, resource-intensive jobs in the decarbonized, circular economy of the future.
Make all European citizens profit from the energy transition by eradicate energy poverty in Europe. Energy efficiency measures need to be targeted to energy poor and vulnerable households and citizens need to be able to better take control of their energy bills through improved energy consumers’ rights and information.”
Work towards an effective alignment of European Union development co-operation with the fight against climate change in order to build resilience and reduce the vulnerability of local populations, and improve their capacity to prevent and reduce the risks from disasters.
Call for a full and effective implementation of the European anti-discrimination directives in the workplace, including in public sector.
The time has come for higher expectations and ambitions, for common goals pursued together, for stronger political actions to address our common sustainable future. We, European Socialists and Democrats, are ready to take this challenge.
 To have a good chance of keeping global warming well below the 2°C, there is only a finite amount of carbon pollution the world still can emit. This fixed amount can be thought of as the carbon budget.
“Sustainable development and the social dimension” is one of the priorities part of the “Building the Progressive Future Together” statement, that will be debated during our event in Brussels on October 18-19. We’re counting on your input, so each of you can play a part in shaping our common future. It’s easy – just sign in, click on the link and add your thoughts. We will select the best comment for each workshop and fly the person who sent it to Brussels, as our Together Ambassador, to debate live with our MEPs, European Commissioners, academics and intellectuals. Deadline: October 9.
Amidst growing Euroscepticism, we believe that fundamental rights and the rule of law are the main features of what makes the EU unique and are essential in order for citizens to identify with the Union. Indeed, the limitation of the powers of public officials by the law, the fact that laws are public, general and apply equally to all, and that they will be upheld by an independent, impartial and neutral judiciary are the DNA of our democratic contract with citizens.
A strong European Democracy. We stand for an EU that is more independent from national governments and directly empowered by European citizens, who make informed choices about their lives. S&D will cement the “Spitzenkandidaten” process, so that the citizens have a say on the political orientation and agenda of the President of the European Commission. We fight for the transparency, integrity and accountability of the decision making process, institutions, European parties and representatives of the EU citizens. We wish that the reform of the European Citizens Initiative will foster debate and participation at European level, including of young people.
Standing up for our “togetherness”. We are together in a community, the bedrock of which is the shared foundation of European values: human rights, fundamental freedoms, democracy and the rule of law. We are therefore deeply concerned by recent developments in Hungary and Poland, which pose serious threats to fundamental rights. Our democracies must preserve constitutional checks and balances. We are sensitive, in particular, to the separation of powers and the key role of supreme courts and constitutional courts in upholding the EU’s common values. We have been at the forefront of calling on the Commission to establish a comprehensive Union Pact for Democracy, the Rule of Law and Fundamental Rights (EU Pact DRF) that is objective, impartial, and evidence-based and applied equally and fairly to all Member States as well as to the institutions of the Union and which includes both a preventative and a corrective dimension.
Fostering media diversity and press freedom. The role of the media is critical in safeguarding democracy, the rule of law and respect for human rights. The Socialists and Democrats are committed to ensure that the role of the press is respected and high-quality journalism is allowed to flourish. Therefore, we need to promote and strengthen quality investigative journalism, improve protection for journalists when they are under attack and reinforce co-operation between journalists and trade unions. We must ensure media pluralism and transparency on media ownership across the EU.
An information society protecting privacy and personal data. The Socialist and Democrats lead the way in shaping European rules on information society, to ensure that no EU citizen is exposed to abuses. National reforms on surveillance should be transparent and include all international and European safeguards. We remain committed to reinforce the rule of law in digital societies, ensure that victim support services are strengthened in criminal proceedings and effective legal remedies are in place along with effective oversight.
For a rights-based Union. Mismanaged globalisation has left whole sections of the population with no benefits, across countries and regions. We must ensure that welfare states, social cohesion, equality and inclusiveness are strengthened to cope with the multiple challenges posed by globalisation. We believe strongly that fundamental rights must take precedence over economic freedoms and that a strong Social Europe develops in the near future as it is the safety net of our democracy.
Against all forms of discrimination. We are pushing for an ambitious EU legislative agenda that ensures equal rights and opportunities for all citizens, regardless of their religious or political beliefs, gender or sexual orientation, social or ethnic origin. Full equality of women and men is an essential principle of the Union. The S&D Group demands that the Council unblocks the Anti-discrimination Directive and that the Commission uses its competences to the full to act on the Council of Europe recommendations on the fight against discrimination of LGBTI persons in the EU. See: http://www.socialistsanddemocrats.eu/position-papers/sd-position-paper-lgbti-rights.
“Defending and strengthening democracy, the rule of law and fundamental rights in Europe” is one of the priorities part of the “Building the Progressive Future Together” statement, that will be debated during our event in Brussels on October 18-19. We’re counting on your input, so each of you can play a part in shaping our common future. It’s easy – just sign in, click on the link and add your thoughts. We will select the best comment for each workshop and fly the person who sent it to Brussels, as our Together Ambassador, to debate live with our MEPs, European Commissioners, academics and intellectuals. Deadline: October 9.
2017 is a crucial year for social Europe. After years of economic and social hardship, the gear is finally shifting. We, Socialists and Democrats, after a long fight with many others, could get social inequalities being put at the centre of EU policies. And we need to push further: making sure that our progressive proposals are turned into a concrete results that ensure decent living and working conditions for all European citizens.
Europe needs, more than ever, to ensure its commitments under the Treaties such as promoting the well-being of people, quality employment, social protection and cohesion, equality between women and men, protection of the rights of children and the development of quality education.
The deterioration of the quality of jobs all over Europe must stop. A major digital revolution may have brought a plethora of new possibilities but it has also created new and atypical forms of employment, where social rights and employment conditions are at stake. We need to ensure that all European citizens are offered a decent work contract and have access to social protection and can benefit from equal opportunities.
For our progressive political family, ensuring high social standards and upward convergence in Europe are key objectives. Our vision of Social Europe is a paradigm shift towards an alternative social model based on solidarity, integration, social justice, fair wages a fair wealth distribution, gender equality, a high-quality public services and education systems, quality employment and a sustainable growth model that ensures equality and social protection, empowers vulnerable groups, enhances participation and citizenship and improves the living standards of all citizens.
The S&D Group has been strongly demanding concrete initiatives to strengthen and update the European Social Model. We believe that the future of the Union will depend on how much Europeans are able to re-identify the European Union with the protection and the reinforcement of their labour and social rights, and, thereby, of their quality of life. The European Pillar of Social Rights has created the momentum for this to happen and we cannot miss this chance.
Although the Commission proposal for a European Pillar of Social Rights is less ambitious than our progressive proposals, it brings an added value to the current acquis with upgrades in social standards for different target groups, such as workers, young people, people with disabilities or people in need of long term care. Very importantly, the Social Pillar highlights the need for equal treatment among workers irrespectively of what type of working contract they have.
We need to make sure that the Social Pillar is proclaimed but also that it is translated into concrete actions: a Social Action Plan combining legal, financial and governance means at EU level.
We European Socialists and Democrats and Progressives must engage in ensuring that social standards are respected and updated and that the European Union and Member States adopt and implement the different principles and pieces of the European Pillar of Social Rights.
“Putting social rights at the core of our Union” is one of the priorities part of the “Building the Progressive Future Together” statement, that will be debated during our event in Brussels on October 18-19. We’re counting on your input, so each of you can play a part in shaping our common future. It’s easy – just sign in, click on the link and add your thoughts. We will select the best comment for each workshop and fly the person who sent it to Brussels, as our Together Ambassador, to debate live with our MEPs, European Commissioners, academics and intellectuals. Deadline: October 9.
Migration has become a key political issue for the European Union, following the large number of arrivals over the last few years. We have been deeply affected by the fate of children, women and men who are risking their lives to reach Europe, and have called repeatedly for a holistic approach to migration to counter populist and right wing scaremongering and their denials of the value of human life and dignity.
Saving lives is our first priority. The unfolding human tragedy in the Mediterranean Sea requires urgent solutions to deal with the large numbers of people seeking asylum in the European Union in a manner that is humane, managed and sustainable. Europe needs a common European Asylum System, which means the end of Dublin. The overhaul of the Dublin rules should create a permanent and binding centralised solidarity mechanism, based on relocation between Member States, with particular attention being paid to vulnerable persons such as women, children, LGBTI people, people with disabilities, and the elderly. In parallel, we must offer to those entitled to international protection an alternative safe and lawful access to the Union’s asylum system. A hotspot approach is not and cannot be the only EU response to the arrival of large numbers of refugees in Europe. We cannot avoid our share of responsibility by obliging third countries of transit to keep all those who would seek asylum in the EU. Relocation, resettlement, instruments of legal migration and measures addressing the root causes of irregular migration for a long-term and sustainable solution are critical.
Partnerships for development to address the root causes in close cooperation with countries of origin and transit. Irregular migration is a global phenomenon requiring a coordinated international response and the EU must take a human-rights-based lead in shaping it. We support a strong partnership between Europe and Africa and the efforts in the United Nations to tackle the root causes of migration in terms of improving the economic and social situation, strengthening democracy and the rule of law, and providing education and employment opportunities in countries of origin. We must improve development cooperation, conflict resolution, and stimulate inclusive and sustainable economic growth to ensure that people have a real chance of a better life in their homeland.
More focus on the integration of refugees and migrants. We need more than just a plan for irregular migration. We believe in a diverse and multicultural Europe, which respects the fundamental rights and dignity of migrants and preserves social cohesion. We must be constantly seeking to improve the living conditions of migrants, the access to public services, decent employment, equal pay and social coverage for equal work, and integration measures at an EU and national level – especially to guarantee education and inclusion for the children of migrants. The EU also needs a more positive and harmonised approach to legal migration, attracting qualified professionals and offering genuine legal channels for those seeking a better future in Europe. We must also stand up and fight against the negative perception of migration that has become a powerful tool in the hands of populist and far right forces in Europe. A well-managed migration system is an asset for the sustainable economic and social growth of our continent, and could even help in safeguarding the welfare state in several EU Member States.
Ensuring adequate financing. In order for the EU to achieve the above policy objectives, the EU budget is one of the best tools for responsibility sharing within the Union and boosting sustainable development in the EU neighbourhood. We have called for the mobilisation of additional financial resources for the 2018 budget. We need to establish an EU Search and Rescue Fund to save lives in the Mediterranean. We call for increased financial support to Member States for integration activities and believe that a significant percentage of the EU Fund for Asylum, Migration and Integration should be earmarked for integration. In parallel, we supported the mobilisation of up to EUR 44 billion under the European Fund for Sustainable Development to create decent jobs, boost growth and ensure stability in Africa and the EU’s neighbourhood. We continue to insist, however, that EU development aid should not be made conditional to cooperation on migration, that Member States honour their commitments in terms of pledges to Africa, and that private companies investing in Africa respect the principles of Corporate Social Responsibility and ILO norms.
“Asylum and Migration: Solidarity and Real Solutions” is one of the priorities part of the “Building the Progressive Future Together” statement, that will be debated during our event in Brussels on October 18-19. We’re counting on your input, so each of you can play a part in shaping our common future. It’s easy – just sign in, click on the link and add your thoughts. We will select the best comment for each workshop and fly the person who sent it to Brussels, as our Together Ambassador, to debate live with our MEPs, European Commissioners, academics and intellectuals. Deadline: October 9.
We need to find better, durable solutions on migration and asylum. This means building up a truly European Asylum System where human rights are respected and responsibilities are shared among all member states. Refugees must find protection and all necessary support for their good integration in society. At the same time, we need to secure Europe’s external border.
Europe must also become more self-sufficient in terms of external and internal security. Europe needs to act more coherently on defence and security, with greater autonomy in defence capabilities and more integration in areas such as common management of operations, procurement and cybersecurity. We also need to develop greater cooperation between national police forces and have better information sharing to fight terrorism more effectively.
However, a feeling of security depends also on general living conditions, respect of citizens’ rights and an environment of tolerance instead of radicalisation. We must do more to strengthen Europeans’ socio-economic security.
7. “No borders” within our UnionA substantially increased share of the cohesion funds should be earmarked for European Territorial Cooperation, i.e. cross-border, transnational and interregional cooperation, since such activities encourage solidarity between EU regions and neighbours, and facilitate the exchange of best practice.
2. Put human capital firstThe future cohesion policy should be geared to more inclusive growth and give priority to qualitative and human capital investment. The focus must be on high-quality education, training and vocational training to address youth unemployment, promote gender balance as well as social inclusion, combat poverty, and make the work-force more resilient to globalisation.
9. Cut red tapeThe complexities of cohesion policy management, and the need for further simplification, are the main challenges ahead. Applying for EU funds should be eased, particularly in order to avoid smaller entities – such as SMEs, associations and small municipalities – being put off from applying altogether.
1. Prepare for the futureCohesion policy must be part of a coordinated, comprehensive stimulus programme to strengthen the ongoing Fourth Industrial Revolution in Europe. We need to make better use of a whole range of new technologies that are fusing the physical, digital and biological worlds. We must set ambitious targets for the digital and ecological transition, and boost research and innovation.
8. Serve the public interest, not private profitCohesion policy is based on regional strategies aimed at increasing economic, social and territorial cohesion and thereby ensuring the balanced and harmonious development of the EU as a whole. It supports investment through “patient capital” as part of a long-term approach to funding essential services and infrastructure. Such an approach does not fit the logic of making quick profits. Grants rather than loans must remain the main policy tool of cohesion policy.
3. EU support for all regionsThe objective of convergence has gradually been broadened to include issues affecting all Member States, such as growth, investment and employment, as well as tackling climate change. Considering that disparities between regions have increased since the recent crises, we believe that a strong cohesion policy must apply to every single region of our Union. Targeting financial assistance at the poorest regions only would be counterproductive as it might prompt a renationalisation of cohesion policy in the richer Member States and thus a diminishing sense of solidarity throughout the EU.
10. Smart and flexibleThe necessary long-term planning of cohesion policy, -possibly for a 5+5 year programming period, should go together with sufficient flexibility to cope with new and unforeseen challenges. We therefore call for a flexibility reserve to be created with uncommitted sums which should not be returned to the Member States.
4. More funding for cohesion policyThe current level of funding for cohesion in the EU budget is not sufficient. Indeed, the current EU cohesion funding which amounts to only 0.5% of the equivalent funding from national budgets, does not allow for EU-wide answers to the global challenges of climate change, migration or globalisation. We also reiterate our call for a “golden rule” whereby co-financing provided by local and regional authorities under EU cohesion policy is excluded from the rules of the Stability and Growth Pact.
6. A participatory cohesion policyThe “partnership principle”, which gives stakeholders a voice in decisions that concern them directly, must be upheld at all stages of planning and implementing cohesion policy, with full involvement of regions, cities, communities, social partners, chambers of commerce and associations.
5. Evaluate the quality of progress, not just the figuresAs indicated by the Social Progress Index, regions with the highest GDP per capita are not necessarily the top performers in terms of social progress. We therefore stress the need to include this Index in the new generation of European Structural and Investment Funds to complement the current GDP-based measurement. Demographic, social, environmental and geographical disparities and political priorities such as the European Pillar of Social Rights and the implementation of the COP 21 agreement and the UN Sustainable Development Goals should be taken into account in determining eligibility for cohesion funding at regional and subregional levels.
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